Expert Advice

Selling or keeping the family home after separation

B2B Editor29 May 2014

Selling or keeping the family home after separation

One question that commonly arises after the breakdown of a marriage or a de facto relationship is deciding what to do with the “family home”. Typically there are two options: the property is sold or the property is retained by one of the parties.

The breakdown of a relationship is almost always a time of considerable anxiety and stress. The idea of having to sell the family home – or worse still, transfer it to a former spouse, can stir high emotions. A family home is usually a couple’s most valuable asset and it has become an important symbol of commitment, security and a productive family life. For children of a relationship, the breakdown of the marriage or de facto relationship is already a difficult and unsettling time. Often being able to remain living in the family home after separation can provide an important source of stability and comfort in what can otherwise be a tumultuous time.

Sell or keep the family home?

There are pros and cons with each option. It is important to be able to make an informed decision. Obtaining good financial advice is a useful starting point.

While the idea of retaining the family home may hold obvious appeal, if at the end of the day, the cost of doing so will put you in an untenable financial position then it is clearly not an option. There are also various tax considerations that need to be considered when transferring or selling real property.

After separation it is not unusual for parties to want a quick and easy resolution. Selling the family home may seem like the most straight forward option. Upon reflection though, retaining the family home may provide enormous financial benefits.

It is also important to obtain specialist family law advice prior to making any important decisions regarding property settlement. Receiving that advice early may allow you to weigh up your options regarding the family home. It may also guide the direction you take with respect to negotiations.

A specialist family lawyer can provide advice on the relevant legal considerations, including an assessment of the merits of you retaining the family home. They can also assist you to negotiate an appropriate property settlement with the other party, which may not otherwise be possible, particularly if there is a “power imbalance” or tension existing between you and the other party.

Importantly, a family lawyer can provide advice about how to secure the family home and any other property, to ensure that no steps are taken to dispose of property without your knowledge or consent.

If you would like to make an appointment with a member of our team, please contact us on 6212 7600.

Stuart Cameron, Senior Associate 18 Kendall Lane, New Acton Canberra City ACT 2601 T: (02) 6212 7600 E:[email protected]